Fly Fishing

Fly Fishing, California Flyfishing, Shad Fishing

Shad Fishing on the American River

Relocating for work creates new fishing opportunities or at least it should. I will always have pity for those that do not move to places with new fishing opportunities.  Being one of the lucky ones, I have been continuing to explore new opportunities in Northern California. My latest endeavor has been shad fishing. For someone from Texas, shad are often just thought of as bait. However, as I recently discovered first hand, some species are worthwhile targets for flyfishing.  

Shad had been on my life list for a while, but I had only known of fisheries on the East Coast.  It was not until arriving in the Sacramento area that I discovered that American shad were introduced to the American River.

I break down exploring a new fishery into three things mentally.

 

1.     Research: This step is straightforward. I gather all the information I can on the fish, locations to find them, and the flies to catch them. This info comes from online sources, fishing reports and most importantly the local shop guys.

2.     Location: This comes from the researching portion too, but selecting where you will go can aid in the likelihood for success. Also, depending upon the fishery, it may change things like regulations, the time fish will be migrating through the area or even how often you can reasonably expect to access the same spot.

3.     Expectation: While all of us want to believe our fishing skills are infallible, in reality we have equal chances of failure or success if all other circumstances remain the same. Thus, I prepare in part by taking a realistic look at my goals and likelihood of success.  For example do I expect to have to cast all day to find a single fish? Is finding a school the key? Should there be many small fish, but few big fish? What is needed for me to consider the day a success?

 

So to break this down for my shad experience, I first researched on fishing for shad in the area and asked around at the local shops. Using that information and knowledge about accessibility I was able to select an access point on the river. Finally, I set my personal goals for the day. 1) I want to fish my switch rod and catch the shad by swinging flies. 2) I would locate a school by methodically working down stream until finding fish. Once hooked up, I would continue to fish the area more thoroughly. (Part of my research described that if you can find a shad, there are usually others in the same holding area). 3) Catching even one would be a successful day. Catching one on a fly of my own design would be even better.

Obviously from the photos, its obvious that I managed to succeed in my plans. American shad surpassed my expectations. They are now in my list of awesomely under appreciated species to target on the fly. I particularly enjoyed getting to swing flies with my switch rod which is not something I have had many chances to do.

Fly Fishing, Fly Tying, Sunfish Flies, Texas Fly Fishing, Bass Flies

Bully's Bluegill Spider Fly Tying Video

The Bully’s Blue Gill Experience

The Bully’s Blue Gill Spider is a staple of blue gill and river bass fishing in Central Texas. Develop by Roxanne and Terry Wilson, this fly makes use of the aggressive nature of bass and sunfish by descending quickly and fluttering while stripped to mimic a struggling or escaping insect. With a body made of chenille, Bully’s blue gill spiders can be constructed in any color of available chenille. The legs MUST BE RUBBER! No silicone legs! The specific action of this fly requires legs with the flexibility of rubber. Silicone is not flexible enough at short lengths to achieve the same effect in the water as rubber. This versatile fly has even led to controversy in our club as rival sunfish anglers debate which color variant out fishes all others. Woolly bugger chenille in brown with brown rubber legs versus chartreuse medium rayon chenille with white rubber legs is often the local debate.

Fly Fishing Shows, Fly Fishing

International Sportsmen's Expositions Fly Gallery

One of the challenges of moving across the country several times in a single year has been trying to track down the local fishing shows.  Upon discovering the Sacramento International Sportsmen's Expositions show, I knew I had to get my fishing show fix.  The show was dominated by outfitters for both hunting and fishing which definitely have their place. However, anyone who follows this blog will realize I must seek out the tying tables.  While there not numerous tiers at this outdoors show by fly fishing show standards there were plenty to keep me entertained. Enjoy.

Tube Flies for Baja

Tube Flies for Baja

They were using craft egg balls as a means to flair materials around the hook.

They were using craft egg balls as a means to flair materials around the hook.

Note the red ball at the center.

Note the red ball at the center.

Chatted for quite a while about everything but New Mexico trout...I was pretty happy to forget about trout for the big boy flies.

Chatted for quite a while about everything but New Mexico trout...I was pretty happy to forget about trout for the big boy flies.

Bird's Nest is a local staple.

Bird's Nest is a local staple.

Green Rock Worm

Green Rock Worm

Steelhead Pattern?

Steelhead Pattern?

Trout Flies, Fly Fishing, Guadalupe River

Return to Texas

 This year I traveled across the country and covering thousands of miles with job changes. I have fished Estes Park in Colorado, the Bighorn River in Montana, most of the drainages of the Bighorn National Forest and now Puta Creek in California. However, Texas still seems like home and I had to go fishing while I returned home for the holidays. I am still pretty leery of comparing the annually stocked trout of the Guadalupe to the native cutthroats of the Bighorn Mountains, but the trout of the central Texas hold a special place in my life long fishing adventure since they were the first trout I ever caught. 

The weather change has pulled much of Texas out of the drought conditions of the last few years. In these years, flows of 100 CFSon the Gudadalupe were treasured on the few days they occurred during the drought, but now flows in the 500 CFS range make for completely new fly fishing challenges. The combination of high (but good) flows and exceptionally warm temperatures this winter have made fishing generally difficult. Daniel Hughes (@cordovacustomrods on Instagram and now guide for ReelFly Fishing Adventures) and I have been discussing these challenges for a couple weeks in anticipation for a holiday fishing trip on the Guadalupe. 

As our battle plan formed from a mix of our own experience as well as stories from other anglers that fished in the days of yore (when Texas had flow). Ultimately, we settled on sinking lines and streamers. One of my long term goals has been to catch a trout on the Guadalupe with an articulated streamer. My normal fishing access points are usually so heavily pounded with olive wooly buggers that tossing streamers bigger then a size 10 would be foolish. However, since I would able to float regions of the river with Daniel that are not accessible by foot I hoped to finally scratch this one of f the list. 

This logic proved sound as I both achieved my goal. I had a nice trout come flying out of the bottom of deep pool to crash my streamer near the surface. A color variant of Fly Fish Food's Cheech Leech proved to be too much of a temptation. Other fish fell to some of my other small streamers and a sculpzilla variant thrown by Daniel. Perhaps streamers and sinking lines will be a new and reliable option in the high flow conditions.

Fly Fishing, Trout Flies

Cutthroats.....Finally

So as you might image as a fish biologist I love catching new species .....as a fly fisherman I love catching large numbers and sizes of different species. Cutthroat trout are a new native novelty to me as a fly fisherman and so far had proved elusive or too small to be of note...for a fly fishing blog. So far the single cut throat I caught was about 2 inches long....I regularly throw poppers that could eat this fish.

However a recent visit to the North Tongue finally allowed me to find my trout fishing groove. The dry dropper system I based off of Fly Fish Food's Stone Flopper and an emerger pattern I am working on as well as a couple local fly shop recommendations (see the most recent instagram posts).

Fly Fishing, Trout Flies

Arriving in Wyoming

Today was my first day at the new job in Sheridan, WY. The journey up here was beautiful and long.  I got to see parts of the country I have never seen before and stopped at some very cool fly shops along the way. My thanks to all the folks working at the counters who provided advice about the fishing on my journey. 

I'm sad to say the I came up short on the fishing end of things in Rocky Mountain National Park.  And in settling down int eh new town I have yet get out to fish. The weather hasn't been particularly cooperative either.  I'll get out soon and hopefully find some fish to show. 

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